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Could Tesla have bigger plans for Australia than the Big Battery?

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A comment posted  – and then hastily deleted – by Tesla’s “Marketing Dept” under a news story over the weekend has caused a flutter of speculation that the US EV and battery maker could have plans to develop a car manufacturing plant on Australian shores.

But it turns out to be a hoax.

The CleanTechnica story, which was about Tesla’s west German division, prompted a comment from reader “Steve_S”, who noted that the EV maker should be keeping an eye on Australia’s automotive market, after the closure of the nation’s last major car factory – the Holden plant in north Adelaide – earlier this month.

TeslaCommentScreenshot

“What about Australia now that GM shuttered Holden, huge car manufacturing facilities doing NADA… Maybe an Aussie Edition Tesla and for pan-Asian exports as well…,” the commenter said.

In a screenshot sent to RenewEconomy (and pictured above), the “Tesla Marketing Dept.” appears to have responded to the comment a few hours later:

“Thanks you for highlighting this possibility, which is anyway on the table. A final decision has not been taken yet.”

It turns out, however, that it was a hoax. “The account referred in the recent RenewEconomy article is not an official Tesla account and should not have been reported as such,” a Tesla spokesman said by email.

As a result, we have amended the story to reflect that, and we apologise to readers.

 

   

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  • Joe

    We have the closed former car making factory sites. We have the retrenched former car workers. We are mining Lithium to export to China so that they can make all sorts of batteries including for EV’s and for home storage of rooftop solar. Australia….what is missing here? “Innovative and Agile” was the catchcry from our PM not so long ago. Well the Elon is here to help….lets make it happen here in Australia!

    • john

      Joe old mate
      Just not going to happen it does not meet the criteria that appeals to the majority of voters who are not interested.
      The fact it may in fact help them is over their head and no party is going to tell them that because it would annoy the voter, being told they are not exactly intelligent!!!! NO way would any party tell a person that.

  • Andrew Roydhouse

    Elon is a ‘one and one makes two’ person.

    From the SA Big Battery project – he and his team (there are more than just Elon!) have seen the current economics of power generation and storage.

    He revealed as much when he commented that electricity should be cheaper even if using fossil fuel generation.

    He clearly had an idea about the relative production capacity per installed MW of PV panels, as well as wind.

    The only aspect slowing him down are that our wage rates are roughly 2 to 2.5x those that he pays for his US workers.

    The beauty of the Tesla wholesale-scale batteries is that he could install a few hundred MWh capacity and virtually eliminate the current ‘gaming’ by the predominantly gas operators (who also happen to have a good amount of coal fired as well).

    That is if he could get Govt approval. But hey, his twitter diplomacy seems to work wonders. Nothing like putting things out in the open to cruel the pitch for vested interests.

    Once that is done and the rorting has virtually been arbitraged away by him then he can simply pack up the batteries and move them somewhere else. After all that is the predominant US PV panel business case in many states.

    The only question is whether the SA Big Battery will be enough on its own to eliminate a good proportion of this gaming? I suspect not due to the interconnector issues.

    • bedlambay

      Tesla may not employ many workers with robots and automation. But using suppliers both local and overseas may make SA Tesla viable. Cheap land and redundant factories and a skilled workforce may bring Tesla here. Jay has been a great salesman and shows up Oily Fryberg’s mendacity and chicanery. The interconnnector should allow SA exporting rather than inporting power.

  • Rob G

    I recall Jay Weatherill saying they had “other” plans with Tesla which would be revealed in due time. He could barely contain his excitement…. And let’s face it, while at a federal level we are hopeless, a state like SA is a world leader. Why wouldn’t a sun blessed country with all the ‘right’ minerals be of interest to Musk?

    • brucelee

      He needs to reveal it in a timely fashion to win this election

    • Mike Shackleton

      SA has done the hard yards in repositioning their grid to renewables and the output and low spot prices they are producing on a regular basis are testament to their persistence. It’s all starting to come together!

      It was never going to be easy to make the transition. Change is hard. The blackout due to the powerlines falling over didn’t help. The ride through settings on wind farms being 10 years behind the times was an oversight. But at least they have been learning from the setbacks and fixing the issues.

  • ben moretti

    The Tonsley site (ex-Mitsubishi) in the southern suburbs of Adelaide has been re-purposed as a high tech innovation centre (https://tonsley.com.au/). It is apparently doing very well and I’d imagine the Gov’t would have the same plans for the Elizabeth site.

  • maxlyrical

    We have trained, qualified auto technicians, engineers, parts factories, auto assembly plants -all languishing. Just waiting for someone to make a move…

    • trackdaze

      Whisly true we have also have the most antagonistic federal government to anything but mining or burning that would spoil any thing the SA governement might be able to broker in this regard.

      They were only to happy to spook multiple billions of dollars in renewable investments out of the country

    • john

      True
      But the problem is the market in Australia.
      No one understands the benefits of an EV.
      Because they make 1 trip of 4 or 5 thousand kilometers they believe that is the kind of vehicle they need.
      Eventually the penny will drop.

  • Greg

    I’m going to call out that this is likely a hoax. Tesla famously doesn’t have a marketing department, let alone one with a Twitter handle with a ‘Dept.’ at the end of the name. While I do agree there is potential, based on what Jay Weatherill said during Elon’s visit, I think Tesla Marketing Dept. is likely a third-party hoax account.

    • Joe

      Tesla…no Marketing Dept …C’mon…they have the Elon who is I dare say doing a fair job with the ‘Marketing’ side of things, yes….World’s Biggest Battery and in SA is a fair bit of ‘Marketing’ in my book !

    • George Darroch

      Came here to say this. Almost certainly a hoax account.

  • Robert Westinghouse

    I am ashamed to be Australian. Yes, all the car plants have shut, and to rub salt in our wounds Reddox the Aussie battery maker will make batteries in Asia. If Tesla can make batteries in USA, VW can make the Golf in German…what is the matter with Australia (aside from the bad politicians)???

    • trackdaze

      High property costs including rates
      High wages
      High bureucracy
      High electricity prices
      High Sovereign risk.

      • juxx0r

        So basically government is what is wrong.

        • trackdaze

          Good summation.

      • Sean Griffiths

        Highly Unionised workforce

      • George Darroch

        Low sovereign risk.
        Germany shares high wages, bureaucracy, and electricity prices. Its property prices are reasonable, but ours aren’t that much of an impediment – large commercial property is not out of control.

        • Christopher Roach

          The big difference in Germany is part of a large ‘internal’ market (the EU), and many of it’s competitors within that market have similar wage etc. conditions.

          Australia has a relatively small internal market (23 million people), and while the potential external market (see various “free trade” agreements) is large much of it has lower wages, governments willing to obey the letter but not the spirit of free trade agreements (expect very specific taxes on classes fo batteries corresponding almost exactly to the technical details of any made in Aus), etc.

      • Mike Shackleton

        With respect to the Townsville GIgafactory:-

        High property costs including rates

        Townsville are leasing the land in return for equity in the company

        High wages

        Economies of scale and automation bring this down, plus Germany has high wages and they do OK.

        High electricity prices

        A gigafactory has enough solar installed to meet its own production, plus you’d assume they will be installing their own batteries for storage! So irrelevant.

        High bureucracy

        As mentioned before, no worse than in Europe or the US

        High Sovereign risk.

        Australia is recognised as a pretty good place to invest. That is, we don’t arbitrarily nationalise industries, or tax the crap out of them.

        The real problem is a lack of leadership and policy direction. Clearly communicated objectives and then legislating those objectives.

    • Joe

      …The COALition is the problem.

    • Roger Brown

      Don’t you mean Redflow Battery ?

      • Robert Westinghouse

        Sorry mate – Redflow…But they should make the here…perhaps at Dubbo…nothing else is done there.

        • Roger Brown

          The market is bigger for Redflow in Asia , and cheaper to make . They will still do deliveries to Australia . Redflow has to do this to make their products cheaper, to compete with Tesla Batteries.

  • john

    Steve_S has his eyes open.
    So read that as not a silly comment.

  • Simon

    While Australia supplies around 50% of the global lithium market, the next largest supplier is Chile. And they are getting on with trying to do something about stimulating investment in downstream manufacturing of completed batteries and their components – attracting interest from major international companies such as Samsung and Umicore.

    On the other hand, I suspect that there are those in Australia that would like to see that happen, but are waiting for our mining companies to transform themselves into high-tech battery manufacturing companies. Hmmmm. I see a vision of someone trying to close a gate…but the horse will have well and truly made its way to parts unknown by the time that happens.

    • Mike Shackleton

      A “Gigafactory” is on the drawing board for Townsville. One more possible in Darwin. The world needs about 100 of these factories to make the transition. Having 3 or 4 in Australia is not outside the realms of impossibility.

      • Joe

        Surely Premier jay is whispering into the Elon’s ear about setting up in SA, yes.

  • Chris Fraser

    Bring on the Aussie Tesla. I say it’s a ute or a troopy with a wrap-around bullbar.

  • Steve Woots

    So they don’t have any plans. At the moment. We continue to wait and hope (not much to have, is it).

  • Sean Griffiths

    Many Aussies commute 150kms per day….this is a big country with a low population….EVs are not the solution. Besides your lithium battery in your laptop, mobile phone and tablet gives up after two years….this is the nature of lithium!… Super-salesman Musk hasn’t been completely honest about battery limitations. Buyer beware.

    • Michael Murray

      Have you got any actual data on commuting distances in Australia and what percentage wouldn’t be manageable by an electric car ?

      I think you will find the warranty on Tesla batteries for cars and homes is a bit longer than 2 years by the way. A quick search suggests an 8 year warranty with possibly 30% loss of capacity being regarded as “normal”.

    • Mike Shackleton

      Sean, 150 km per day is 75 km each way. Even a Nissan Leaf can do this now.

      Comparing lithium batteries in a laptop, to the batteries in a Tesla is like comparing a laptop from the 90s to one from now. Totally different beasts.

      • Sean Griffiths

        Hi Mike. Laptops switched from NiCad to Lithium and this was a huge improvement but there is still a major deterioration in battery life after two years. USA and Europe have greater population densities so charging stations every couple of 100kms are viable…there are stretches greater than 1000km in Australia where there are no fuel stations….drivers on these routes must carry extra fuel. In addition, if every car sold had 10kgs of lithium and every house had another 10kgs in their storage battery the world would quickly run out of lithium….it is a rare earth mineral after all. By memory the fine print in the Tesla warranty only covers pro rata life expectancy with a big deterioration factored in….replacing the battery pack would be more expensive than a full engine replacement for most cars.

        • Mike Shackleton

          I’ve done a quick search online regarding the longest distances between fuel stations in Australia and crossing the Nullabor looking at 250 – 300 km between stations – that is well within range for a Tesla.

          By the way, Lithium is not a Rare Earth mineral. It’s one of the most abundant metals in the earth’s crust! It can be extracted from seawater.

          • Sean Griffiths

            Mike….there are desert tracks through the interior where a Prado must have a full tank (150L) and carry 60L diesel in jerry cans. As for lithium being abundant, there is also gold and many other minerals dissolved in seawater…..to extract any of these would require more energy than they currently are worth….if we ever get to the stage where we have to recover lithium from seawater, it will be worth more than gold and therefore not a solution for cars or solar storage.

          • Greg Hudson

            Tracks in the bush are a bit different to say… the Hume Hwy.

          • Sean Griffiths

            Lithium is found at 20 parts per million in the Earths crust and is ranked number 33 in terms of abundance…..aluminium is 4000x more abundant and iron 2500x more abundant than lithium….I’d say lithium is pretty rare😏

    • PatSparks

      But you don’t manage the battery in a laptop for longevity because the equipment will be replaced within that 2 or 3 years. Traction batteries are managed for longevity so will last much longer. My Prius battery was only going to last 8 years I was told by many, the car has covered over 300,000km and the bathere has been in service since 2004

      • Michael Murray

        Interesting. Do you know how capacity you have after that time ?

        • PatSparks

          Sorry Michael, I have no way of measuring the capacity. I can tell you the performance and fuel consumption are still the same and the battery indicator indicates full at about the same point going down a hill I travel regularly. I know that may not be an accurate gauge. Also the Prius has very different battery chemistry to a Lithium Ion battery. My Outlander PHEV is now 3 years old and showing no sign of battery deterioration. It’s about maintaining a charge in the battery between 20% and 80% to ensure a long battery life. I hope manufacturers are sacrificing a little range for a long battery life when they set up the charging/discharging algorithms.

          • Michael Murray

            No worries. Thanks for the reply. I bought a Camry hybrid about a year ago and I’m really enjoying it. I just have to be careful not to get distracted by the little display that shows the energy being shared between the battery, engine and wheels !

      • Sean Griffiths

        That is impressive….but Prius is a hybrid so a good percentage of the mileage is achieved via petrol. And it’s Nimh, not Lithium.

        • PatSparks

          Yes, I’m aware of that Sean. My point was that people said the battery in the Prius wouldn’t last, it is lasting. People are now saying the Tesla battery wont last, I expect it will because it will be managed better than a laptop battery.
          OH, and the Prius battery is tiny in comparison to a Tesla, it also cycles many times per day not once or twice.

    • Peter F

      Not many aussies commute 150km per day, The average distance is less than 30. I haven’t seen the distribution curve but it would be less than 5%

    • Greg Hudson

      Troll

  • Richard

    There could be something in this. Tesla/Panasonic are perfecting the manufacturing of batteries and packs.
    Those manufacturing facilities could be replicated at far cheaper costs than the original GF1. Also Australia is a ready made market for all it’s products and has all the raw materials in a stable democracy.
    I reckon weatherill may have an announcement up his sleave. We will see!

    • Greg Hudson

      ”Stable democracy”? Surely you jest with the now defunct Banana Joyce and his lordship TurnCOALbull still here…